For what must have been the third time tonight, Elijah crawled out from under his blanket, tip-toed slowly across the creaking floor, and ended up beside my bed, tear-y eyed and with a quivering voice. I knew what the issue was. His brother had just talked about the bad dream he had the night before. Now that he was asleep, Elijah was left alone to face his own fear of the dark.
This has become a pattern. Some nights are better than others. Those nights when both boys are fast asleep before their father and I are ready to climb in bed are like a holiday.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV)
I had gotten tired of getting up to put him back to bed. But I prayed for him, guided him to pray for himself, and walked him back to his room…again. He would not relent. Refusing to lay his little head down and close his eyes, he continued to cry and insist I stay with him.
I could feel the frustration rising up inside me.
“Lord, we can’t keep doing this every night! What can I do?!”
I stayed with him a few more minutes, rubbing his curly little hair while trying to put his mind and heart at ease. We said another round of “goodnights” and “I love you’s” (Elijah loves to throw “you’re beautiful” in the mix) and I headed back to my room.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.”
I felt terrible for being so frustrated. Where was my patience? After repeated attempts to get him to stay in bed, I had resorted to fussing and threatening punishment if he got up again.
“Lord, why can’t I get him to believe what I tell him? Why can’t I get Him to trust You? If he won’t believe that You will protect Him, what can I DO?!”
And in that instance it hit me (or maybe the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the brain). I really can’t GET him to do anything. This wasn’t a flesh and blood issue. It wasn’t a battle of wills or disobeyed rules. Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with my children’s night fears. I can recall many nights when i was their age being afraid of shadows and imaginings and even, an unexplained figure! But I tend to sympathize a little too much. In fact, had my husband been up, our boys would have been asleep long ago for fear of him instead of the night.
I was frustrated with the situation and unnerved with my lack of patience which, has been a recurring theme on this homeschool journey. But the source of my frustration went from my son not staying in bed and my inability to do anything about his fear, to realizing that God has the ability to change hearts. I really couldn’t DO anything besides pray with him, show him how to pray, and give him empathy, reassurance and affection. But what seemed so obvious now, I hadn’t done…
I wasn’t praying for him.
I know, I know. What kind of mother am I that I wasn’t praying for my son?! It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t praying. I had gotten so wrapped up in the “training” part of mothering that I forget all about where the battle was really taking place.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)
I was trying to convince my son that there was nothing to be afraid of. Instead of seeing this as a spiritual battle and an opportunity for God to reveal Himself and use this situation, no matter how typical, for His glory, I was trying to make Elijah trust God. No amount of talking can accomplish that. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can.
Now that I see this, I notice it in more than this aspect of my life. Lord, help me to remember in the midst of being a wife, mother and teacher, that I’m not at war with myself, my husband or my kids. But that there are things taking place in the unseen realm and You alone are Lord over all.